Hotel Napoleon

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Hotel Napoleon
You can sense the history from the first moment that you let your eyes wander around the Hotel Napoléon: the décor chosen in accord with the hotel’s namesake, the love story that began the hotel, the proprietor (who is the son of the couple that began the hotel back in 1928), and the Errol Flynns and Ernest Hemingways who have spent time there.  This 101-room hotel, just steps off of the Champs- Elysées, has found a balance between historical and renovated, familiar and formal, and Parisian and worldly.  Many of the suites and rooms offer unbeatable views of the Arc de Triomphe, just two blocks from the hotel, and the Eiffel Tower across the rooftops of the eighth arrondissement.  From my room I had a view of the Arc de Triomphe through the window opposite the bed and a view of the Eiffel Tower from the window to the left of my bed–and I was in a room, not a suite!    The red carpet in front of the Napoléon Paris leads you through the entrance, past a smiling young doorman, and to the front desk, which I never saw without at least one welcoming staff member in attendance. At the desk I asked to check in, using my French laden with an unmistakable anglophone accent.  The woman responded in English, “Do you speak English?”  Another lost opportunity to practice my French, I thought to myself.  “Yes,” I responded, but then she followed up with “Would you prefer to speak French?”  “OUI!”  I couldn’t have been more pleased at my check-in, which  was finished within a few minutes.   While the receptionist was making a copy of my passport (required in Europe now), I had a chance to look around the lobby.  Comfy chairs and sofas reminiscent of Napoleonic style fill the lobby, with several tables and armchairs cozied up to the fireplace in the far corner.   Light floods into a front room that is quieter than rest of the lobby (which has the check-in desk at one end) and the entrance to the restaurant and bar at the other end.  Somewhat set-off from the rest of the lobby, this room offers a nice place to have a quiet conversation, read a book or newspaper, or watch people walk by outside the windows facing the street.  And speaking of newspapers, the Napoléon Paris is kind enough to keep a lobby table positioned freshly stocked with complimentary newspapers and magazines, including the International Herald Tribune and Time Magazine.  The bar will serve you anywhere in the lobby that you like, so you can enjoy an apéritif relaxing in what feels like a comfortable living room in a royal residence.    Since the Napoléon Paris brought M. Corpechot on board as the hotel manager, the renovation and renewal of the hotel have been a constant effort.  The fruits of his labor are showing:  as of the end of March 2005, 98% of the rooms have been renovated.  The only rooms not yet completed are the presidential suites, which I saw in their “unfinished” state–and they are still fantastic.  All in all, I was able to see at least one of each type of room plus a few extras, which resulted in viewing a dozen rooms.  The décor of the rooms varies, although the design has stayed true to the Napoléonic era. The rooms throughout the hotel have various color schemes, linens, and upholstery, making return visits to the Napoléon Paris familiar but not dull.  The beds are roomy and the wonderful large down French pillows are fantastic. The bathrooms have all been renovated and are fabulous, with either combination bath/showers or separate bath and showers in several of the suites.  The bathrooms in the deluxe rooms and suites are especially large for an old French hotel.  The towels are plush, and bathrobes, a hairdryer, and even a scale are provided (OK, you probably don’t want to have a scale available during a vacation to the culinary paradise of Paris, but you can always hide it in the closet).  Rooms have recently been equipped with flat-screen televisions that also provide internet access, films, radio, and television stations in English, French, Spanish, Chinese.  The hotel is also completely WiFi ready, and the rooms all have DSL access.  The hotel also has a computer with internet access available.  The front desk sells internet access cards starting at five euros for ten minutes.  The first renovation completed on the hotel was air-conditioning. The views offered by the rooms at the front of the hotel are unbeatable.  From the deluxe room that I stayed in, Room 501, you have a view of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.  Imagine waking up in the morning and having the Arc as the first sight you see!  You can then sit up in bed and look out the second window to your left and see the Eiffel Tower.  Room 501 also has a lovely sitting area with a sofa (all sofas in the hotel rooms convert into beds) and a couple of comfortable chairs – a great place to sit in the late afternoon and watch the crazy traffic circling the Arc.  A word about the traffic – I was concerned that the most picturesque rooms on the front side of the hotel would also be the noisiest because of the traffic on the Avenue de Friedland and the Place de l’Etoile, but the traffic noise is not excessive and after 8:00 p.m. the Avenue gets pretty quiet. ***** The presidential suites are really something.  There are two – one on either side of the front of the hotel: Suite Errol Flynn and Suite Josephine.  Both have wrap-around balconies, and the panoramic view of the Arc de Triomple, the Eiffel Tower, and Paris in general is…
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